NEWS

Last-minute obstacle to loan tranche

PENNY BOULOUTZA

TAGS: Health, Finance

Greek government officials and representatives of the country’s creditors were Friday seeking to resolve a last-minute disagreement regarding the state’s contribution to the cost of diagnostic tests carried out at private clinics to ensure that the next sub-tranche of 1 billion euros in rescue loans is disbursed next week.

The Euro Working Group gave the green light for the release of the sum earlier this week, subject to a few additional conditions, after coalition MPs voted a new raft of economic reforms through Parliament.

However, a new stumbling block appeared Friday with Greek and foreign officials disagreeing about the cost of diagnostic tests. Although the issue was not expected to be a deal-breaker, there had been no agreement by late last night. The creditors are proposing a reduction of 40 percent in the cost of tests, Kathimerini understands, while the Health Ministry is willing to impose a cut of up to 22.5 percent. The move would put pressure on clinics to either reduce their costs or roll over the additional amount that the state is no longer able to cover to their patients.

The 2015 budget had earmarked 302 million euros for state subsidies to diagnostic clinics, but the claims made by clinics to the country’s main healthcare provider (EOPYY) are estimated to reach 510 million euros. Such a discrepancy is no longer acceptable to the creditors.

Greek officials are keen to tie up the loose ends relating to the last set of prior actions so that the 1 billion euros in loans linked to them can be released by the end of the year. They must then shift their focus to the much tougher challenge of overhauling the ailing pension system and completing the framework for a new tax system.

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